Craig Dunn: Tremors from Trump, Cruz and Sanders
Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:20 AM
KOKOMO – Okay, let’s cut out the bull and talk about what the presidential primary results were all about. The Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were all about revolution. The masses are damn angry and they have made their voices heard. That’s how we do revolutions in a democracy. Rebel at the ballot box!
It is unarguable that the Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were about battling the status quo. Although each candidate found a somewhat different set of elements to assail, each of their campaigns was born from an anger that had been building for close to 50 years. Just like an earthquake fault line, the longer the interval between pressure relieving quakes, the greater the magnitude of the tremor. The current political situation is somewhat akin to linking the San Andreas fault to the New Madrid fault and watching the United States political scene go shake, rattle and roll.
The typical Donald Trump supporter that I’ve met is terribly angry about what they perceive as the decline of American greatness. They long for a time when we were the only big kid on the block internationally. Trump supporters are tired of not finishing and winning wars. They want an end to wars fought with no clear definition of victory.
They love the middle class and have been sickened by the steady outsourcing of jobs to Mexico, China, India and everywhere else, where children and adults work for pitifully low wages in factories unprotected and unobstructed by government regulations.
Trump supporters remember when Americans made tangible things that people needed and you could understand the entire manufacturing and distribution process from mining raw materials, assembling the products and then distributing the products around the world. A good hard worker could find a good job straight out of high school, live a comfortable life, raise his family, have a nice home and retire with some dignity. They openly disdain the Silicon Valley billionaires who have made a fortune manufacturing products or ideas that don’t require a big hunk of steel.
Trump supporters don’t buy the economic message that free trade is good for them. They ignore the fact that millions of jobs have been created by free trade. Why? Because their skills and geographic location didn’t correspond to the realities of a world economy and they became the odd men out. They’ve seen their incomes slide over the years as their personal economic lives have become filled with uncertainty.
Trump’s supporters want their jobs and their futures put back together like they once were, and they are willing to trust the Donald to deliver.
The Cruz campaign largely consisted of the soundly religious wing of the Republican Party. He made his name fighting against the inexorable social change rolling over our country. With the Constitution in one hand and a Bible in the other, Cruz’s obstinate refusal to play nice with others drove his genteel comrades in the United States Senate crazy. While he waged a quixotic campaign in the U.S. Senate against gay rights, abortion rights and anything the Obama Administration did that clashed with his interpretation of the Constitution, Cruz became the darling of those who generally believe that Roe v. Wade marked the beginning of the great American slide into oblivion.
Cruz supporters see a return to Biblical principles and values as the only way our nation may be saved from the evils of the world. Every problem has a solution found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation.
Campaigning for president with Jesus as your running mate and the Bible as your playbook is always a good formula for locking down a good 25% of the Republican vote. Unfortunately for Cruz, playing the religious card in 2016 was Trumped by the America first, nativist message. An unemployed or underemployed American worker is a Trump supporter first, second and last. All other considerations are just background noise.
What about the revolutionaries on the Democrat side? Bernie Sanders supporters represent a sad element of our modern political revolution. They believe the deck is stacked solidly against their futures by the evil partnership of Wall Street, big business and fat cat millionaires who don’t believe in sharing. The typical Bernie Sanders supporter ran up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt while pursuing a college degree in philosophy, archaeology or modern feminism. They are deeply troubled by the fact that our world economy today is not looking for philosophers, archaeologists or modern feminists.
Thus, driven into the underbelly of the American economy, working as baristas at Starbucks, these 21st Century idealists blame Wall Street and Republicans for their misery. Cobbling together a ragtag army of the disaffected, Bernie Sanders has led a doomed but determined nuisance campaign that has tied Hillary Clinton up in knots. After all, despite her many overtures to the proletariat, she is the leading recipient of Wall Street largesse and the 74-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders just won’t put down his political Molotov cocktail of class warfare and go home to Smuggler’s Notch.
Sanders supporters are loud, shrill, unwavering, committed, focused and seldom confused by the facts. They are the perfect left wing counterparts to Trump’s forces in the new American Revolution.
How does all of this end? I’m not sure. It is safe to assume that the majority of the votes cast during this primary season were by voters who were as mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore. These voters will not go away after the November election. If Hillary Clinton wins and does nothing but continue the economic, moral and international slide of our nation, then 2020 will make the 2016 look like child’s play. If Donald Trump wins and does not deliver on his promises of bluff and bluster, then he will pay a terrible price in 2020. Either way, the angry voter of 2016 will be with us for quite some time.
Let us hope for all of our sakes that the angry revolution of 2016 remains confined to the ballot box and that the pitchforks and guillotines remain locked away in another time.
Dunn is chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.